Doane baseball looks to clinch second straight GPAC title
CRETE, NE — Swinging for the fences.
The Doane Tigers are closing in a second straight regular season GPAC Championship.
"You know, everyone likes to say just go out there and have fun and winning is fun," sophomore outfielder Joe Osborn said. "It's a blast. We've got a great group of guys and a lot of really good team chemistry."
The magic number for Osborn and Doane is four heading into a four-game weekend series with Hastings College.
Coach Josh Oltmans’ team has had to battle through numerous injuries. He says he’s proud of them for pushing through and reaching this point.
"Maybe someone will get taken out for a month, maybe just for a weekend, and the guys have just been, 'Next guy up,'" Oltmans said. "That's been the thing. It's like who wants a shot to play today and have a chance to win it for the team. We've had a really good response."
As a team, Doane is hitting over .300 this year. Osborn, a Norris High School product, has brought the power, hitting 17 home runs. That's over three-times as many as anybody else on the team.
He says it all starts in the cage.
"It's just a lot of BP honestly," Osborn said. "I've got Coach Oltmans. He's a great coach. He's really worked with me a lot on different approaches and off speed pitches and just trying to become a well-rounded hitter."
His coach is happy to see that work paying off in game.
"When you have guys that are good players that work hard like that, that perpetuates a winning culture," Oltmans said. "He's a big part of what we do. He's not the only reason we're where we're at, but he's a big part of it. He's definitely a piece of it. It's been a joy to coach him along with the rest of the guys."
That work is effecting the win column too. After February, Doane was 5-5. Since then, the Tigers are 24-3. That includes a 16-game win streak. When it ended, the team rallied to keep the momentum going.
"I said, 'Well guys we can all get our haircut now, you know, and drop the superstitions,'" Oltmans said. "It's about playing and winning this game ahead of us and they did a great job of winning the next one in extra innings after we did lose that one."
Now Doane could potentially clinch the conference this weekend.
"When we take the field, we expect to win," Osborn said. "We have a lot of competitors on the team and at the beginning of the year everyone wants that conference title. Everyday we talk about it and when we break it down, we just expect to win."
Doane and Hastings College are set to play two games in Crete Saturday and two more in Hastings Sunday.